Rome – 1 Day Walking Itinerary of Rome- Featuring Roman Holiday, Emperors Footsteps and Rome’s oldest bridge

1 Day Walking Tour of Rome

Fulvia, our host from  My Rome Apartments is full of energy and information about Rome.  She is passionate about travel and well travelled herself.  She  thoughfully provides “little extras” and interesting information to guests during their stay. 

There are recycled guide books and brochures from the  tourist office and a book swap library near the breakfast bar.   If you mention you like a particular food for breakfast, it will appear for you the following morning.  She will advise you on places to visit,  circling your map and pointing out her favourite shopping, dining and historical sights in Rome.

Our Room at My Rome Apartments
The apartment is located in Termini which, at first glance, appears to be rough and slightly dodgy, however if you look beyond the inner city grime, there are hidden gems all around the district and it is close to all public transport for easy  access Rome’s sites.

Mr 77 and I discuss with Fulvia over a breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt and muesli where to go for the day and we decide that we should walk and let Rome’s beauty and history bewitch us.  

We decide on walking in the Emporers footsteps, to admire hundreds of years of history, architecture and art.

First stop however, is a coffee at Cafe Trombetta Via Marsala 44, 00185 Roma.  It is close to the apartment (near the eastern entrance of Termini station) and has been serving coffee to Romans for over 120 years.  

As we enter,  it is full of people downing their morning expresso shot and nibbling on pastries at the counter. There are marble benchtops and glass cabinets full of delicious pastries.  People are jostling each other to have their orders paid at the till, if you are not assertive you are ignored. The orders are filled at the counter by the Baristas who look like waiters at a fine dining restuarant.  They are wearing crisp white business shirts, black aprons and silk ties.  As they heat, steam, stir, pour and swirl to the beat of the expresso machine, they look like conductors in a caffine orchestra.   Coffee is a serious business here and at 3 Euro for 2 Cappuccino’s and a litre bottle of water,  Mr 77 and I think it’s great value for money.  The coffee is good and the Barista’s theatrics are free.

Caffe Trombetta by Ron Beddard(Tripatlas)
It is a bright, sunny, wide blue sky day.  Not yet overbearingly hot but we know Rome in Summer means steamy later in the day.  To conserve energy, we take the metro from Termini to Spagna to commence our walk at the Spanish steps.

On our way I wonder why a major tourist attraction in Rome has a Spanish namesake.   The Lonely Planet tells me that the Piazza di Spagna or Spanish square at the bottom of the Spanish steps is named in a nod to the Spanish Embassy and in the 17th century, the area around the embassy was considered Spanish territory. So ole !

Colonna dell’Immacolata
When we arrive, my eyes are drawn to the southeast of the square to a column called the Colonna dell’Immacolata (column of the Immaculate conception).  Erected in 1857, it commemorates the immaculate conception and is now topped with a statue of Virgin Mary.

It is not too crowded so we are able to get a good view of the Fontana della Barcaccia,  commissioned by Pope Urban VIII and designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini who was inspired by the 1858 floods,  it is said that the fountain sits on the place where  a small boat was stranded on the spot  after the water subsided. 
Fontana della Barcaccia
Mr 77 and I  take photos on the steps and walk the 137 stairs, pausing about half-way to sit, pose and make like Audrey Hepburn in the film Roman holiday like every other tourist.   

The Spanish Steps
The Spanish Steps & Trinita Del Monti

We reach the top of the stars and find the beautiful  Trinita Del Monti  (Trinity of the Mountains) church.  A French Gothic church with renaissance facade and two bell-towers atop.  Inside, there are several paintings decorating the chapels. The guide tells me there are two pieces by Daniele da Volterra,  a pupil of Michelangelo, who is famous for covering up the genitals on Michaelango’s Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.  

In front of the church stands the Obelisco Sallustiano, a Roman imitation, constructed in the early years of the Roman Empire for the Gardens of Sallust.

It is cool inside the church a welcome respite from the heat.  We wander around taking in the beautiful artwork, sculptures and wonderful hushed silence of the church.

Obelisco Sallustiano
Adoration of the Shepherds by Daniele da Voltere (1548/50)

As we leave the church we are rewarded with lovely views across Rome’s rooftops. 

View across the rooftops
The next stop on the walking tour is the shopping precint at the bottom of the Spanish steps, Via Condotti.   For me it is agonising,  there are so many divine shoes, bags  and clothes  from the the fashion houses of Prada, Gucci and Salvatore Ferrugia.  I weep as we walk because I cannot afford them.    

Browsing however is free, so we walk in and out of shops ooing and aahing at  fabrics, design and prices tags that have too many zeros for my woeful budget as we ignore the you don’t belong here stares from the sales assistants.

Prada – Via Condotti
I console myself with the fact that Rome is such an amazing city to walk around and get lost in, it is impractical to wear pricey, pretty, pointy shoes.  

We are literally walking in the footsteps of emperors and walking through the pages of history.  High school history comes alive and it (almost) no longer seems to  matter about the lack of pretty prada handbags.

Next stop is the mausoleum of  Caesar Augustus.  Caesar, the first Roman Emperor built the tomb in 28 BC as a family Mausoleum.   It is an impressive  structure, although years of neglect have made it look forlorn in its abandonement and neglect.    Decay and  weeds have taken hold and it is hard to imagine its former glory.

Mausoleum of  Caesar Augustus

I close my eyes to try to visualise the original granduear of  44 odd metre high walls surrounded by Cypress trees,  grand bronze doors flanked by two Egyptian obelisks (now located at the Piazza de Qurinale and the Piazza dell’Esquilino).   Outer walls  covered with white marble, it would have been imposing. 

Mausoleum of Augustus
Sadly we didn’t know it is not possible to enter the Mausoleum, unless you have booked a  guided tour.  So if you are planning a visit and want to go inside, book ahead.  You can at any time visit the  Musei in Commune across the road from the Mausoleum to see the Arch of Augustus. 

The museum is worth a loo, there are a tons of busts, sculptures, models and some very unusual art.  We were bemused by a ‘piece’ entitled Mae West,  a giant condom with the face of a  a very scary blow up doll glowing in the dark.

Model of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Musei in Commune

Bust of Caesar Augustus in Musei in Commune
Across the road from the museum, is the Church of San Rocco AugustoTo the right of the church is a column measuring the height of the flooding of the Tiber, the worst was 1598 with a record of 4 meters above the current street level. 

Flood Column on th Church of San Rocco Augusto
As expected, the day turns to a steamy 30 degrees.  Being the last official day of summer holidays people are out enjoying the sun.   The restaurants and cafes are full and the banks of the Tiber are dotted with pop up pools and bars.   Families and couples are out walking their dogs and traffic in the eternal city is light.

One of the pop up pool bars along the Tiber

Views walking along the Tiber to Ponte Saint Angelo
We walk along the river to the Ponte Saint Angelo and the national museum of Castel Sant Angelo.  

Ponte and Castel St Angelo

It is a striking building,  constructed between 123-139 AD, a monumental grave of he who liked to build big walls – The Emperor Hadrian.  

The Castel has had multiple uses; a Fortress,  Papal apartments, military barracks and used as a prison.

Castel St Angelo

It has appeared in popular movies: Angels and Demons, where the final clue reveals that the ‘Chapel of the Illuminati’ is located in Castel Sant Angelo and further back in Roman Holiday, where it  served as a backdrop for the scene where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck dance on the barges on the Tiber.

Walking across the Ponte St Angelo

Castel Sant Angelo

Now, it is a popular tourist attraction, we climb the stairs to take in the views, which are  stunning, a beautiful 360 degree panorama of Rome.  Being a clear day we get uninterrupted views around the city and I can see why Puccini picked it as the setting for Tosca to leap to her death, it is very dramatic. 

Views from the rooftops of Castel St Angelo
After walking around the museum,  our tummies tell us it is time for lunch.  

Streets of Rome

We walk across the river and make our way towards the Pantheon, stopping at  CYBO in Via Di Tor Millina,27  to eat.

Lunch at Cybo Rome

Lunch at Cybo Rome

Selected at random, we sit down when we spy umbrellas that spray misty  water over the tables.   In the afternoon heat, tired with expanding feet it is perfect.  I order a  Campari Spritz,  Mr  77 opts for a  Menabrea and we share some prosciutto e melone and Spaghetti Con Pomoodoro – it is all simple but delicious.

After lunch, it is a short stroll to Piazza Navona and Bernini’s fountains.  I have been here before but each time I see this amazing work of art I am awed.  We take time to stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere and the beautiful sculptures of all the three fountains. 

Piazza Navona – Flower Markets
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (fountain of the four rivers)

Fontana dei Quattro FiumiCourtesy of A taste for travel

Fontana di Nettuno (Neptune fountain)  at the Northern End

Fontana Di NettunoNeptunes Fountain

Fontana Di NettunoNeptunes Fountain


Fontana Di NettunoNeptunes Fountain

Fontana Di NettunoNeptunes Fountain
Image courtesy of Denis Jarvis –

Fontana del Moro (Moor fountain) at the southern end.

The day is starting to get away so we visit the  Pantheon (a second century AD pagan temple,  built by the Emperor Hadrian it now  houses Raphael and the first king of Italy’s tomb as well as few others). It has also featured in another Roman Holiday scene, the sidewalk cafe scene  filmed at a bar called Rocca’s,  now no longer there.

Pantheon – inside the dome
Pantheon  – External

Fontana del Pantheon
Fontana del Pantheon

All of the walking and heat are making us weary, so it is time for a Gelati stop.  

We sit on the steps of the Fontana del Pantheon, in the Piazza della Rotonda and people watch as we enjoy our creamy scoops of pistacio and chocolate.

Fontana del Pantheon

If coffee is your afternoon pick me up be sure to stop at Caffe Sant’Eustachio in Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82,  famous for  cappuccino, made according to a secret, highly guarded recipe.

The gelati has provided the necessary pick me up, so we walk down to the Capitoline Hill and to Piazza del Campidoglio  

Capitoline Hill
Capitoline Hill

The Michelangelo designed pavement and the bronze statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius are impressive and you could spend a whole day in the museum.  There is also an amazing view over Rome from the top of the museum.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius – Piazza del Campidoglio

With sunset upon us however, the views across the city are calling and we stop to take in the golden glow across the rooftop domes.  

Sunset View from Capitoline Hill

The light is pink and lingering so we walk around the hill to see the Roman Forum glowing pink  in the dusk light.

Roman Forum at dusk
It is still hot and our thoughts turn to dinner.  To end the day we walk back to the Tiber, where it is cooler,  to see the remains of Rome’s oldest stone bridge Ponte Rotto spanning across the river near the  Isola Tiberina. 

From here we also get to see the Pons Fabricius or Built in 62 BC it is Romes oldest bridge still in tact and in use. 

Pons Fabricius
Pons Fabricius

Remains of Ponte Rotto & Isola Tiberina in the background

We walk to the island and find ourselves amongst pop up bars erected for the summer film festival. We take a seat, order aperitif and a plate of charcuterie to nibble on as we watch the Tiber flow full force past us  down the weir.   We marvel at the impossibly stylish Romans as they walk past.  I feel very shabby in our backpacker uniform of t-shirt and shorts.

As the crowds begin to grow with late night revellers and the films light up the screen, we decide to call it a night.   We hail a  taxi (a bargain at 9 Euro) back to Fulvia’s and dream of all that now is and all that once was in this beautiful city.

Quick Guide to Rome

All major airlines have direct flights from most major capital cities around the world. To find the cheapest flight you can use any one of these comparison websites below.  Just remember that they usually charge booking fee of between $19-39 AUD and airlines you book direct with unless you remove browser cookies from your search engines will charge extra. 

    If you are staying for a few days consider purchasing the Roma Pass, it entitles you to free transport and two museum entry free.  Check out the details here:

    Viator has many great tours and discounts for Rome, you can tailor your trip and get tips from the locals.

    Sites we visited

    Augustus Mausoleum –It is possible to book the guided tours by:
    Cooperativa IL SOGNO
    Viale Regina Margherita, 192 – 00198 ROMA
    +39 06/ –
    +39 06/

    Musei in Commune

    Castel St Angelo


    Capitoline Hill and Museum
    Piazza del Campidoglio 1 
    Bus – Piazza Venezia

     A word of warning, at the time we travelled,  local gypsies were “helping” tourists select their tickets at the metro ticket stations, then requesting  a small fee.   They will tell you they are from the tourist office, but they are not.  They are not dangerous, just a bit pushy at times and you are definaetly not obliged to give them money.  

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